Meralco hints of more rate hikes this year

by Myrna Velasco – February 7, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

After enjoying financial relief for months in their electricity bills, consumers may need to brace for “worse things to come” as this year may mark incessant adjustments in power rates.

Cautionary words have already been advanced by Manila Electric Company (Meralco) in its statement to the media last week when it announced a P0.42 per kilowatt hour (kWh) rise in its overall billed rate for February.

The utility firm was mainly referencing on the typically tight-supply-and-high-demand summer months that historically resulted in heftier rate adjustments.

“Customers may expect a couple more of rate increases in the coming months as summer approaches,” Meralco said.

It reiterated that “based on historical data, consumption and consequently overall demand for power spike as temperature rises,” adding that “this could be more evident especially that the country is experiencing El Niño.”

The probable cost uptick from the summer months would not be the only worry for consumers when it comes to a rise in their electric bills.

Several rate adjustment applications are pending with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) – and anticipated issuance of decisions could trigger fresh round of increases in the rate components.

For one, the feed-in-tariff allowance for renewable energy facilities had been sought to be increased to P0.1025 per kWh from currently at P0.0406 per kWh.

The RE developers said the propounded adjustment factored in additional RE technology installations as well as cost under-recoveries incurred last year.

Additionally, the National Power Corporation has batted for P5.8-billion cost recoveries that will ultimately be reflected in the universal charge for missionary electrification in the bills.

If the ERC will decide on it soon, Filipino consumers will bear this additional cost burden in their bills this year.

Another government-run energy firm Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation has also applied for P8.706 billion worth of true-up adjustments on its universal charges for stranded contract costs and stranded debts – or in simpler hike in charges to account for its stranded liabilities.